Rapt (Kirsanoff, 1934)
An exciting, shrewd revenge tale where Dita Parlo gives one of the best performances I’ve seen from the decade. In a time period where actors/actresses were trying to make the transition from silent film to talkies, several very questionable performances exist. Then there’s Dita Parlo who pulls off a stunning 1934 double feature (L’atalante being the other and more famous). Kidnapped by a man in a neighboring village, she is locked in a room for weeks (maybe longer) as rumors quickly spread that she is actually there to marry her kidnapper. As the man continues to keep her hostage, he slowly starts falling for her and allows her freedom to roam the village.
At this point, despite her innocent and naive appearance, she begins to manipulate the people and the situation in her favor. She’s conniving and she’s smart, and it was a treat to watch her work. Additionally, Kirsanoff again proves why he was a pioneer of early filmmaking. He refuses to put the camera in a traditional position, incorporates beautiful lighting, and does masterful jump-cut editing. The only technical feature I didn’t care for was the sound. At times the score was extremely distracting, and when the music does fade, it was often replaced with odd sound effects (which I later read were revolutionary, but that doesn’t mean they were good). Still an oddly delightful movie, especially for the time period. 9/10